October 6, 2012

Posthuman Singularity Still Very Near

Doomsday Preppers have their own National Geographic Channel cable show.  But those who await the Singularity must trek to San Fransisco next week to hear the cognarati explain what it all means at The Singularity Summit 12.

The Technological Singularity, when a posthuman super intelligence emerges, will not happen on its own.  As Ray Kurzweil argues:
belief in the singularity promotes the paradigm shift necessary for its advancement. By promoting the "truth" of its coming through predictions that seem remarkable at the time but inevitable after the fact (a global computer network, a computer beating the chess champion, etc.), Kurzweil's popular series of books reinforces the belief that a singularity is unavoidable.
 Since we still live in "Epoch 5: The Merger of Human Technology with Human Intelligence,"  we can only hope that Ray and his well paid gang of white people will do their best to shift us yet closer to Epoch 6, the time when

The Universe Wakes Up.

But on that great day, what we will say to the awakened universe?  Perhaps it is time to carefully reread the end of Hegel's Phenomenology:

The other aspect, however, in which Spirit comes into being, History, is the process of becoming in terms of knowledge, a conscious self-mediating process – Spirit externalized and emptied into Time. But this form of abandonment is, similarly, the emptying of itself by itself; the negative is negative of itself. This way of becoming presents a slow procession and succession of spiritual shapes (Geistern), a gallery of pictures, each of which is endowed with the entire wealth of Spirit, and moves so slowly just for the reason that the self has to permeate and assimilate all this wealth of its substance. Since its accomplishment consists in Spirit knowing what it is, in fully comprehending its substance, this knowledge means its concentrating itself on itself (Insichgehen), a state in which Spirit leaves its external existence behind and gives its embodiment over to Recollection (Erinnerung). In thus concentrating itself on itself, Spirit is engulfed in the night of its own self-consciousness; its vanished existence is, however, conserved therein; and this superseded existence – the previous state, but born anew from the womb of knowledge – is the new stage of existence, a new world, and a new embodiment or mode of Spirit.

In other words, when the universe wakes up, it will spend its time mostly watching old YouTube mashups, Hulu classic TV, and reading about its anticipated awakening on Wikipedia. We will clearly have a lot of explaining to do.

So maybe hastening the Singularity is not such a good idea after all.  How will we deal with the awakened universe when it undergoes its inevitable adolescent identity crisis?  What happens if it decides to join the Doomsday Preppers and stage its own grand self-referential apocalypse?

Many questions. So few answers.
Singularity Summit 2012 - Create the Future from Singularity Institute on Vimeo.